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Discussion Starter #1
I've posted this in the Betta forum as well.

Revisiting this question, I am looking for something not only compatible with a Betta, but also not feel cramped in a small tank (8.5" D x 14" L x 7-8" H from substrate to water surface), and adds sufficient nitrogen to the ecosystem to help satisfy the plants needs for ammonium.

On a little more of advanced note, I am concerned the stocking level with the planting I am doing will be insufficient at providing enough ammonium, and perhaps CO2, for the plants (only a single betta planned). I would prefer not to CO2 inject the tank if I can help it due to it's size and the difficulty of keeping the injection timed with the lighting cycle (5 on, 4 off, 5 on). I am hoping Excel will fill in the gaps if needed. I would also prefer not to dose nitrogen if I can help it.

So searching for a stocking solution. Open to suggestions.
 

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Plants

I've posted this in the Betta forum as well.

Revisiting this question, I am looking for something not only compatible with a Betta, but also not feel cramped in a small tank (8.5" D x 14" L x 7-8" H from substrate to water surface), and adds sufficient nitrogen to the ecosystem to help satisfy the plants needs for ammonium.

On a little more of advanced note, I am concerned the stocking level with the planting I am doing will be insufficient at providing enough ammonium, and perhaps CO2, for the plants (only a single betta planned). I would prefer not to CO2 inject the tank if I can help it due to it's size and the difficulty of keeping the injection timed with the lighting cycle (5 on, 4 off, 5 on). I am hoping Excel will fill in the gaps if needed. I would also prefer not to dose nitrogen if I can help it.

So searching for a stocking solution. Open to suggestions.
I had a nice planted 5 gallon betta tank with moss, dwarf water lettuce, dwarf sag and Anubis. Looked wonderful. The betta was sufficient enough to make the plants thrive. I also added in some Seachem Flourish which does a long way. It's cheap and you wont use too much of it. I did not use Excel, C02 OR root tabs in this tank.

If you have the right lighting and use Flourish, the plants will do great. What's H substrate?

I have never and do not plan on using C02 and my plants grow so fast I can't keep up with them. Root tabs come in a long way to help with that and when ever I have needed C02, Seachem's Excel has been plenty. The plants will use C02 when there is light and there will be a build up of it during the dark hours. When I was doing Excel, I'd use it 2 times a week.

Why the weird lighting cycle? I've never seen anything like that. My planted tanks will receive 6 hours of light max per day. The one at work receives 7 because it's at work and we want to see the fishies longer hahah. You want to create a good sense of day and night for both the plants and fish. The more like their natural environment, the better.

I think it's very important to have longer cycles (6-8[max] on and 16 off). Before you even do Excel, I recommend doing it without and see how the plants react. Once you get the lighting and fertilizer mixture right, then I would recommend to start doing that (if needed).

I would look into RootMedic capsule pluss which I use for all my rooted plants. That, by itself, will make your plants go nuts! You'll find them on sale for really cheap on some forum sites.

What kind of look are you going for?
What are your water parameters?
What is your lighting situation? Kelvin rating? Wattage?
Substrate?

I'd need to know those variables before suggesting any plants.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
What's H substrate?
Ooops. A happy finger typo.

The plants will use C02 when there is light and there will be a build up of it during the dark hours. When I was doing Excel, I'd use it 2 times a week.
Yes. That's right. Slipped my mind.

Why the weird lighting cycle?
It's a method of managing CO2, keeping the PH more consistent, and controlling algae. The idea is that when Photosynthesis reaches it's max in the early afternoon where CO2 is at it's lowest, the afternoon no lighting simulates a cloudy afternoon. Slows photosynthesis allowing CO2 to build up again. Then another session by the plants in the second lights on period. There's a little more to it than that like max efficiency at absorbing nutrients from the water. It is a method suggested by Diane Walstad in her book. My plants thrive in this lighting scheme, my PH remains more consistent and I have no algae issues at all.

Before you even do Excel, I recommend doing it without and see how the plants react. Once you get the lighting and fertilizer mixture right, then I would recommend to start doing that (if needed).
I agree. A good plan.

I would look into RootMedic capsule pluss which I use for all my rooted plants. That, by itself, will make your plants go nuts! You'll find them on sale for really cheap on some forum sites.
I am planning to use root tabs. I will look into this brand.

What kind of look are you going for?
What are your water parameters?
What is your lighting situation? Kelvin rating? Wattage?
Substrate?
More on my set up. Am using Flourite Black with a little soil mixed in (don't have time to fully prep the soil for a full soil bed) and root tabs. I use RO water mineralized with SC Equilibrium. From experience with the water in my other two tanks, I will need to dose Fe, K and trace minerals.

Water parameters are PH 6.9, dH 6-7, dK 4-5. Temp 80 F.

The lighting comes from a 12 inch Fugray Plant Light, 8.9 watts, 7000k, 650nm for the red lighting. Gets a little hot so I Velcro it to the bookshelf above. 3" clearance from water surface (no heating issues). If need be, as I hang the light, I can upgrade to the next size for 11.8 watts. I am inclined to think that is too much.

I'd say the look I am going for is well planted and lush. Have already selected the plants which will be: Water Sprite (planted), Wisteria (planted), Myriophyllum mattogrosense, Rotala Colorata and Rotundifollia, some type of Hygrophilia, two crypt varieties and floating frogbit. Temp may be a little on the high end for the stems, but a friend I get plants told me they would likely be OK.
 

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It's a method of managing CO2, keeping the PH more consistent, and controlling algae. The idea is that when Photosynthesis reaches it's max in the early afternoon where CO2 is at it's lowest, the afternoon no lighting simulates a cloudy afternoon. Slows photosynthesis allowing CO2 to build up again. Then another session by the plants in the second lights on period. There's a little more to it than that like max efficiency at absorbing nutrients from the water. It is a method suggested by Diane Walstad in her book. My plants thrive in this lighting scheme, my PH remains more consistent and I have no algae issues at all.
Interesting. I've never heard of that. Very interesting.

I agree. A good plan.

I am planning to use root tabs. I will look into this brand.

More on my set up. Am using Flourite Black with a little soil mixed in (don't have time to fully prep the soil for a full soil bed) and root tabs. I use RO water mineralized with SC Equilibrium. From experience with the water in my other two tanks, I will need to dose Fe, K and trace minerals.

Water parameters are PH 6.9, dH 6-7, dK 4-5. Temp 80 F.

The lighting comes from a 12 inch Fugray Plant Light, 8.9 watts, 7000k, 650nm for the red lighting. Gets a little hot so I Velcro it to the bookshelf above. 3" clearance from water surface (no heating issues). If need be, as I hang the light, I can upgrade to the next size for 11.8 watts. I am inclined to think that is too much.

I'd say the look I am going for is well planted and lush. Have already selected the plants which will be: Water Sprite (planted), Wisteria (planted), Myriophyllum mattogrosense, Rotala Colorata and Rotundifollia, some type of Hygrophilia, two crypt varieties and floating frogbit. Temp may be a little on the high end for the stems, but a friend I get plants told me they would likely be OK.
Flourite Black is way better than anything I've ever used haha. Have you thought about doing flourite AND soild? That way you don't have to do a full soil bed? Just a thought.

Is your tap water not suitable for the tank? I'm assuming those water parameters is of the treated RO water? That must get expensive. I know that I had hard water where I used to live and had to consider that approach.

8.9 watts should be enough because you only have a (3.6gUS) tank (accoding to aqadvisor). You already have more than 2 watts per gallon, which I'd say is sufficient.

You'll have to keep trimming the water sprite, Rotala Colorata, Hygrophilia and the wisteria so they don't grow too tall. They get quite big in my experience. Especially whenever I get wisteria...wow that stuff explodes.

Have you thought about dwarf sag? Great carpeting plant. I have a really short version of it that doesn't get too tall. The rest seem great. I want to see what this looks like. It's going to be quite the forest in there. Yea, they should be ok. I keep my tanks pretty high too, although not that high.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Flourite Black is way better than anything I've ever used haha. Have you thought about doing flourite AND soild? That way you don't have to do a full soil bed? Just a thought.
Essentially, that's what I am doing, but with only a thin layer an inch beneath the surface. Not sure if that will do anything, but it will bring some bacteria with it.

Is your tap water not suitable for the tank? I'm assuming those water parameters is of the treated RO water? That must get expensive. I know that I had hard water where I used to live and had to consider that approach.
I was using my tap, which starts at 1 for both dK and dH with a PH of 7.9. Adjusting everything was pretty simple; however, the starting tds is at 78 which gets problematic for crustaceans with the final tds after mineralization and such.

I also followed a thread where some poor guys water source changed parameters without him knowing. The result was a water change that killed all three of his Bettas at once. Likely won't happen here, but I don't want to risk it. And the expense isn't as bad as it might seem. Only 30 cents a gallon at my LGS.

You'll have to keep trimming the water sprite, Rotala Colorata, Hygrophilia and the wisteria so they don't grow too tall. They get quite big in my experience. Especially whenever I get wisteria...wow that stuff explodes.
I am expecting that, and actually want them to grow emergent within reason. Helps keep the substrate anaerobic, control algae and speeds up their rate of nutrient absorption. Here in lies the crux of my concern about nitrogen for the plants. They are fast growing species as is, and I am concerned there will not be enough ammonium to go around.

I am planning to allow the tank to cycle in the background, no filter cycling save what does not get absorbed by the plants. That being the case, may not be a huge issue as ammonia / ammonium will accumulate over night. Bacterial action on poop and food will further add ammonia / ammonium. But I just don't know if it will be sufficient, if more stocking will be needed or not.

Have you thought about dwarf sag? Great carpeting plant. I have a really short version of it that doesn't get too tall. The rest seem great. I want to see what this looks like. It's going to be quite the forest in there. Yea, they should be ok. I keep my tanks pretty high too, although not that high.
I think about carpet plants with every aquarium, but just don't have what I consider to be a suitable tank just yet. As you noted, this tank will be pretty lush to be sure, and the planted area in the tank will be at least 40 - 50%. That, combined with the driftwood, covers alot of real estate.

Even still, I am looking forward to seeing what it looks like as well :)
 

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For root tabs, you can use osmocote fertilizer from lowes or any hardware store and just get some empty gel capsules and stuff them with the osmocote.
 

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That's awesome that you LFS has RO water! I wish mine did. That's really not a bad price.

Btw, it seems you're concerned with the nitrogen being introduced. I have this spread sheet of a few fertz that shows the amount of Nitrogen in there. It could help you in that respect: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0At_8CV4ftW-udG1iYW1ud2xTTldOVk1KNE9VTXFUR2c&usp=drive_web#gid=0

I guess it is always a matter of see what happens and react to it in this case. Chasing that perfect balance.

Flint, good find. I've never even thought about that!
Here is the specifications sheet for this fertilizer:
http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/osmocote/PDF/Osmocote%20-%20O%20_%20I%20Product%20Page.pdf
AND
http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/osmocote/PDF/Osmocote%20-%20F%20_%20V%20Product%20Page.pdf

here is their website: Various products of Osmocote Controlled Release Fertilizer - Fertilizers - Fertilizer supply companies - Wholesale Nurseries Suppliers - plant nutrition

It seems they have some time release products, which is interesting.
 

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It looks from the nutrient charts this is mainly a macro fertilizer. If either of you find out more information on it, please let me know.

Once I get home, I'll add this fertilizer to the spread sheet!

Thanks for the great info Flint!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Great spread sheet. About how long does it take for a gelatin capsule to dissolve? And do they have a radius they would fertilize or should there be one per rooted plant? It seems like there would be a rapid release once the capsule dissolves. Would that be harmful in the form of an overdose? Forgive the questions, doing fertilization this way is completely new to me.
 

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Great spread sheet. About how long does it take for a gelatin capsule to dissolve? And do they have a radius they would fertilize or should there be one per rooted plant? It seems like there would be a rapid release once the capsule dissolves. Would that be harmful in the form of an overdose? Forgive the questions, doing fertilization this way is completely new to me.
I'm glad you find it useful :)

I don't know how long they take to dissolve but I have found some dissolved capsules coming out of the substrate when I didn't bury them deep enough.

Personally, I do one tab per rooted plant if it's a large plant. For plants like dwarf sag that bunch up, I put one with a radius of about 4-5 inches away from each other. I've noticed the roots will seek the minerals (this is when I've pulled some of those plants out). The dwarf sag was so aggressive it worked it's way towards the a sword plant and started to steal the swords minerals.

For overdosing: A lot of these fertilizers that are in capsules are also time release, like the one Flint recommended. As for those that aren't time release, I'm not sure. I've used the Root Medic capsules pluss (I don't know if they were time release or not [Also, I think Root Medic might have gone out of business because I can't find their site anymore]) before and I used them as described and I did not have any problem...just too many plants that grew too fast hahah.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
By accident, I found a place that a 5 pack of Osmocote capsules for 1.25 bucks. Bama Plants is the place. Far better to me as I don't have to purchase a 25kg bag of the Osmocote that will take me 3 life times to use.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I didn't notice this before, but Osmocote does not contain iron. What would need to be done for root feeders to make up for the lack of this item?
 
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